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July e-ClassNotes

J U L Y   2  0  1  4

The Summer Heats Up At Edu-Conferences

Earlier this month, we ventured to Las Vegas and Atlanta for networking, sharing, and learning from a wide variety of people involved in education and digital learning.

Celia Alicata, director of marketing and communications, attended the Charter Schools Conference in Las Vegas, and shared some thoughts: I left with three resounding themes that are applicable to educating children in the 21st century, no matter the school governance structure that you might support:

  1. Schools need to innovate around time, talent, and technology.
  2. Students need empowering and engaging content.
  3. The education community needs to focus on diversity and inclusiveness.

It’s hard to imagine anyone who wants to impact young people’s lives disagreeing with these three themes. And still, the ideas of choice and charters can be hot-button topics, and terms laden with political undertones. At Classroom, Inc., we simply want to serve those most in need—whether they hail from public charter schools, traditional public schools, or Catholic schools. We’re fairly agnostic when it comes to the type of school; we are, however, evangelists of high-quality curriculum.

Read Celia’s complete reflections here.

The annual massive gathering of edtech leaders led us to Atlanta for ISTE 2014. One topic that received some major airtime at the conference was project-based learning (PBL). Madison Kinnard, product development associate, discusses how schools can help students master the Common Core through PBL in her ISTE recap.

Games + Learning Releases New Survey Data

New survey data from the Games and Learning Publishing Council out of the Cooney Center shows that more teachers are using games to collect important data on student behavior and performance. In the release, Lisa Holton, president of Classroom, Inc., notes the positive impact that games have on low-performing students: “Low-performing students are often relegated to endless skill-building games and programs that don’t engage them or yield positive outcomes. Years of experience show us that when the same students are given the opportunity to play learning games that require critical thinking about real-world issues, they make amazing gains—for example reversing the summer slide by gaining five months in reading, and making the connection between school, work, and their futures.” Read the full survey data.

Each month, we will feature something new and exciting about After the Storm—our new game-based learning program designed to middle school-level Common Core State Standards in reading and writing.We launched After the Storm in seven different sites across New York City this summer. Summer programs implemented the blended learning instructional model, which engages students through the online game where they read and write their way to success by editing articles; analyzing source materials; monitoring social media; and writing memos, emails and opinion pieces. Students also participated in face-to-face discussions fostering ethical reasoning, interpersonal communications skills, and deliberation. Our new trailer gives you all the details—check it out!

It’s been a summer of learning for us as we gain insights and useful feedback from the students and teachers using After the Storm. The other day we hosted 18 incoming 9th graders from Cristo Rey New York High School to test play the game. Here are a few of our favorite comments:

“I liked the part where you mark up the articles because it actually makes the player think.”

“My favorite part in the game is the editorial because I felt as if I was in charge of everything. It was my choice to put the story on the cover page.”

“It looks like a work office—really professional, and everything looks so real.”

Thanks to Cristo Rey New York High School for sharing your morning (and feedback!) with us.

Partner Focus

Chicago City of Learning + Chicago Public Schools =
Engaging Summer Learning

We served more than 1,000 students in Chicago Public Schools’ Summer Acceleration Program. This program helps students who are aging out of 8th grade for various reasons successfully transition to high school. And as part of the Chicago City of Learning, students earned digital badges for their accomplishments.

When we visited Orr Academy High School and Farragut Career Academy—two schools that used our What’s Up Magazine simulation this summer—we had the opportunity to speak with students, teachers, and administrators. One question we asked was how this type of learning game, where the student is boss, is different from other programs used in school. Angel, an observant young man, noted: “Playing the editor-in-chief is so different. When you’re in the classroom, you get normal responsibilities. But with What’s Up Magazine, whatever you do wrong, your ‘staff’ looks to you to do the right thing. It’s a lot of responsibility.”

When we asked the same question of Jessica Johnson, assistant principal at Orr, she described the harsh realities that many of her students face. She explained how these are incredibly bright, resilient young children, but they’ve experienced setbacks: traumatic experiences, gotten in trouble, or missed a lot of school for a number of health reasons. “This program allows them to feel success. If it wasn’t engaging and interesting, they wouldn’t come.”

And succeed they did! Last week, students graduated from the Chicago Summer Acceleration Program and will head to high school in the fall. Keep an eye out on our website as we continue to tell the story of our work in Chicago.

What we're reading

Check out the full list of news, blogs, and reports that caught our eye this month in our July RoundUP.

Poll Shows More Students in Summer Programs, Ed Source:
Data released this month shows that a third of families with school-age children enrolled at least one child in 2013 summer programs. That is an increase from five years earlier when only a quarter of families had enrolled.How to Read Education Data Without Jumping to Conclusions, The Atlantic:
A welcome warning for consumers of education “big data”: while much of the research is grounded in solid methodology, sometimes it makes sense to wait before we take the research and deploy changes in the classroom.

Creating Anytime, Anywhere Learning for Students:
The Alliance for Excellent Education disseminated a new report on the key elements for a comprehensive digital infrastructure.

Email: CInewsletter@classroominc.org
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Games in Education:
Troy, NY August 5-6
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